Sala de Graus II. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
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Seminar with Milagros Rodríguez Catón: "Carbon dynamics in the tropical forest of Costa Rica from the leaf to the landscape"

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

TITLE: "Carbon dynamics in the tropical forest of Costa Rica from the leaf to the landscape"

DATE: Tuesday, 17th October 2023

TIME & FORMAT: form 11.30 am to 1pm CET - In-person

Seminars will combine in-person and online formats (CREAF, Sala Graus II, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain) but in all cases, talks will be always streamed (not recorded), so they can be followed online.


Increased temperature and evaporative demand due to climate change are threatening the capacity of tropical forests to remain a carbon sink. A decrease in tropical carbon sink capacity, or a shift to a net carbon source, could profoundly affect global carbon and water cycles and exacerbate climate change. Predictions of forest-climate feedbacks require an accurate representation of the vegetation component of the carbon cycle in terrestrial biosphere models.

Novel hyperspectral remote sensing techniques, including Solar Induced Chlorophyll Fluorescence (SIF), have emerged as powerful tools to monitor leaf, landscape, and global carbon uptake, providing an opportunity to upscale carbon assimilation processes from the leaf to the landscape. However, very few of these observations have been performed in highly diverse tropical forests.

We aim to assess the influence of climate on the spatial and temporal dynamics of photosynthesis within a flux tower footprint in the Atlantic wet forest of Costa Rica at La Selva Biological Station (10.43°N, 84.01°W). Leaf and canopy chlorophyll fluorescence and photochemical reflectance index (PRI) measurements are compared with solar radiation, temperature, and humidity, at diurnal to seasonal time scales. At diurnal time scales results challenge prevailing assumptions by suggesting that leaf temperature is more important than light for midday depression of photosynthesis. At seasonal time scales there is a good correspondence between the maximum leaf-level electron transport rate and satellite SIF, encouraging future upscaling of carbon assimilation in these ecosystems.

This research contributes to bridging the gap between leaf-level and satellite observations and identifying mechanisms regulating carbon sink capacity at different spatial and temporal scales under the influence of climate change in wet tropical forests.


Milagros Rodríguez Catón is an Assistant Project Scientist of the Department of Plant Sciences, at the University of California Davis. She is a visiting researcher at CREAF as part of the Visitors & Sabbaticals programme, within the Severo Ochoa excellence distinction. She is an Agricultural Engineer by the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza (Argentina), and she got her PhD in Biological Sciences in the same university. Milagros Rodríguez Catón's Google Scholar.